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Ontario Picnics

We remember picnics. They stick with us in a way that other things don't. Maybe it's because the history of picnics is essentially the history of humankind and hence so imprinted upon us. Picnicking is a return to who we are as a species—we and our earliest primate ancestors have been eating outdoors for over 55 million years. It's really only relatively recently on the human evolutionary timeline that we stopped being nomads, formed permanent settlements, began to tend crops, and moved further and further indoors.

The following images are from Ontario Picnics: A Century of Dining Outdoors, available now from your favourite bookseller.

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Photo of two girls and a boy taking tea outdoors in old fashioned clohting

Tea Party at Mr. McCurry's, Ottawa, October 10, 1892

"...Photo taken by James Ballentyne, who founded both the Ottawa Literary and Scientific Society, and the Ottawa Camera Club. He was an extremely talented amateur photographer."

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Two Indigenous women having a picnic with four children. They're all wearing bonnets and fine dresses.

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Freshly Picked: Amazing Food Books

Freshly Picked: A Locavore’s Love Affair with BC’s Bounty, by Jane Reid, is an amusing romp through the fruits and vegetables grown in the varied soils and landscapes of British Columbia. The author covers the fascinating history and oddball growing habits of the plants we eat, and includes personal stories of love and affection plus recipes and tips to enjoy the harvest. “Packed with informative, humorous stories that celebrate the fruits and vegetables grown in local fields and orchards, Freshly Picked is an ode to the joys of eating in season,” according to Edible Vancouver & Wine Country Magazine.

Author Jane Reid continues to read and write about eating and growing local food. She is constantly inspired by others. Her favourite books (for now) are described below. 

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The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

It was the flavour of local harvests that first made me a locavore, but now I know there are multiple reasons to seek out food grown nearby —and this book was one of the first that told me so. The …

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Summer Eats: Our Taste Canada Shortlist Extravaganza

If a few of the books on the 2018 Taste Canada Shortlists sound familiar to you, it might just be because we've been featuring them (and sharing their delicious recipes!) on our blog during the past year. And now with summer at its height and with the shortlists just announced, the time seems just as ripe as the fruit is to spotlight these incredible recipes again. 

Explore all the nominated books and blogs at the Taste Canada website. 

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Make This:

Apricot Curd Tart

from Rod Butter's and Kerry Gold's The Okanagan Table

"My chef de cuisine Robyn Sigurdson, who has worked with us since Fresco, came up with this simple and yummy tart, showing off the tasty union that is apricot and thyme."

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About the book: The Okanagan Valley, 125 miles long and 12 miles wide, is home to some of B.C.’s most historic farmland, and every summer, the region explodes with apricots, peaches, sweet cherries, pears, plums, nectarines, grapes, and apples. There is no greater pleasure than seeing the reaction to true, honest cooking, and home cooks know this feeling, too. The Ok …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Food Books

Book Cover Spic and Span

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Ever wonder who invented the electric mixer, a foot-activated garbage can lid, fridge door compartments for butter and eggs? Lillian Gilbreth. Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen, by Canadian Monica Kulling, illustrated by David Parkins, is a non-fiction picture book for grade 3+ about American domestic engineer Lillian Gilbreth. In the early 1900s, Lillian was widowed with seven children and used her engineering training to reinvent herself. As a pioneer in the ergonomic field, she interviewed over 4,000 women in order to redesign kitchens for greater convenience and efficiency. (Check out 49th Shelf's Q&A with Monica Kulling about the book.)

A Few Bites, by Cybele Young, is a sweet story about Viola coaxing her younger brother Ferdie to finish his dinner. Young's illustrations start out as small, realistic pen drawings of the kids at the table, with Ferdie preferring to look for a lost toy rather than eat broccoli. But as Viola spins …

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Best Eats: Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew from Michael Smith's Family Meals

Book Cover Family Meals

 

 

 

For most Canadian families with children, September is a time for new schedules and routines, plus resolutions to live better together, and family meals are a huge part of that. To that end, Chef Michael Smith's new cookbook, Family Meals, goes a long way. Here are recipes for busy families looking for opportunities to eat healthier, cook together, and feast together. With the chill in the air that September brings, this recipe for Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew will seem especially delicious. Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew

Serves 4 to 6

 

2 tablespoons (30mL) of vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons (30mL) of curry powder

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

A 19-ounce (540mL) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew

4 cups (1L) of water

1 teaspoon (5mL) of salt

A 14-ounce (400mL) can coconut milk

2 cups (500mL) of fresh or frozen green peas

1 pint (500mL) of cherry tomatoes, halved

½ teaspoon (2mL) of your favorite hot sauce

The zest and juice of 1 lime

A handful of fresh cilantro sprigs

Splash t …

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The Politics of Food: List by Nick Saul & Andrea Curtis

Book Cover The Stop

"It began as a food bank. It turned into a movement." Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis are authors of The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement. Here, they share some of their favourite books about the politics of food.

In our house, we devour books about food. Cookbooks, kids’ books, odes to the tomato, the apple, the cow or cod. We’d read poems about tofu if there were such a thing. (Anyone?) But it’s not just because we like to eat—though we do—it’s more because food is connected to so many other things we care about. Things like community, health, the environment and social justice. We’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. What follows is a list of some of our favourite Canadian books that see food in this integrated way—not just as fuel for the body but a tool for building a more just and sustainable world.

Book Cover No Nonsense GUide to World Food

The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food by Wayne Roberts:

Former head of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Roberts is one Canada’s good food gurus. This pocket-sized tour through the history …

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Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

An excerpt from Nothing More Comforting: Canada's Heritage Food by Dorothy Duncan

I light the prairie cornfields Orange and tawny gold clusters And I am
called pumpkins.
Carl Sandburg, "Theme in Yellow"

Pumpkins

Squash is the name we often use in Canada to include a wide variety of vegetables that grow throughout the western hemisphere. They are native to the Americas and were known and grown by the First Nations long before the arrival of explorers from other countries. Evidence of squash dating from 7,000 to 5,500 B.C. has been found at the Ocampa Caves in Mexico, and from there it would have travelled north. In the eastern United States, two-thousandyear- old burial mounds have yielded up similar evidence.

Among many First Nations, squash, beans, and corn were known as the Three Sisters.They were grown together, the corn standing tall and straight, the beans climbing the corn stalks, and the squash spreading out to control the weeds. When they were harvested, they were often eaten together to complement one another.

Early European explorers searching for the treasures of the Indies found instead the culinary treasures of the Americas, including squash. Although usually associated with North American cooking, squash was also carried to other parts of the world. In Great Br …

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